PAUL BEATY/Associated Press
Bill Belichick has never shied away from taking fliers on relatively unknown prospects in the later rounds of the draft. Matt Cassel, Julian Edelman and Nate Ebner—just to name a few—quickly come to mind.
Tyler Starr is a player who I had never heard of before his performance at the Shrine Game but will burst onto the national scene at the combine.
Doug Kyed from NESN.com was the first to make the Starr-to-Patriots connection:
Head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots put a lot of value in the three-cone drill, and Starr could break the combine record, according to CBSSports.com. Starr recently was clocked at 6.29 seconds in the three-cone drill. Last year’s best mark was Utah cornerback Will Davis’ 6.52. The best recent mark was Oregon wide receiver Jeff Maehl’s 6.42 in 2011.
Starr has the right size for a Patriots outside linebacker, too. Belichick typically likes linebackers who are taller than 6-foot-1 and more than 240 pounds (for pass rushers, 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds). Starr is 6-foot-4, 250 pounds and played outside linebacker and defensive end at South Dakota. He has experience rushing the passer and dropping back into coverage.
Starr projects as an outside linebacker at the NFL level.
With a seventh-round pick, you might as well swing for the fences. If Starr develops into a player, Belichick will look like a genius.
Follow James Christensen on Twitter @NEPatriotsDraft for more Patriots and NFL Draft analysis.